"Juniper Lee": Yeah, I’d Watch It
The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, Judd Winnick’s new Cartoon Network series, is about a young girl who is the “Great Protector: Keeper of the Harmony between Magic and Reality.” As such, Jun must reconcile her responsibilities with more mundane things, like hanging out with friends and going to school. The problems involved with keeping her two worlds separate result in some light angst or amusing comedy, depending on the situation. This isn’t really anything that hasn’t been done in other superhero shows, but Juniper Lee does well with the character interaction and comedy. The action scenes get the job done, but the comedy is where this series shines. In the second episode (which I liked better than the first) Juniper visits the local museum on a school project. While there, dark mages trying to gain power over the mortal realm bring a mummy to life. They recognize the true horror of their actions when the ancient mummy raises an army of zombies and uses them to open a Waffle & Rib Emporium.
The comic relief regulars include Juniper’s Scottish-esque accented pet dog/guide/information source and her little brother Ray Ray. The latter particularly impressed me. While Jun has issues with her responsibilities, Ray thinks that it’s awesome that his big sister is a super hero, and he wants to be the Robin to her Batman. Like any good sidekick, he sometimes gets in the way and sometimes he helps save the day. As Ray, Kath Soucie successfully strikes a good balance between earnestness and comedy.
Animation on the show is only average: I don’t have any problems with it, but it’s nothing to write home about. The designs seem to be along the lines of Kim Possible Meets Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, which means they’re striking but not especially original. The backgrounds are somewhat abstract and reusable as stock for future episodes, but they get the job done. On an up note, the series does a good job with character animation, especially with body language during the more mundane moments.
Many people may recognize creator Winnick from his time on MTV’s Real World San Francisco or from his work on various comic book series (including Batman, Green Lantern, and others). A pedigree like that does explain something about the influences of the humor and writing here.
Overall, the show is likeable, easy to watch, and appeals to a wide audience. I don’t think I’d clear my calendar to catch it, but I’d definitely watch it again if I was home and it was on.
The Life and Times of Juniper Lee premieres Monday, May 30, at 7:00pm, and will air regularly Sundays at 7:30pm.